IBM and SoftBank Introduce Japanese Watson APIs

IBM and SoftBank have released six cognitive services in Japanese that can be used to create IBM Watson-powered apps in the region. This new set of language and speech services in Japanese will enable local app developers to apply Watson to their businesses.

"Since the launch of the Watson platform, thousands of developers in other parts of the world have used these technologies in new and exciting ways," said David Kenny, general manager of IBM Watson, in a statement. "We're thrilled to now offer the Japanese market the power of cognitive computing and excited to witness the creativity of this community as they apply Watson in new ways."

The Watson Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) now available in Japanese include the following:

  • Language: IBM is advancing services that enable cognitive applications to understand the nuances of Japanese in context;
  • Natural Language Classifier allows developers to create products and applications that understand intent and meaning, uncovering answers for users even when questions are asked in different ways;
  • Dialog makes app interactions more natural by creating conversations tailored to the individual style a person uses to ask a question;
  • Retrieve and Rank improves information retrieval using machine learning to detect signals in data and helps users uncover even the most hard-to-find information;
  • Document Conversion transforms content in formats like PDF, Word, or HTML into formats that can be used by other Watson services, such as Retrieve and Rank.
  • Speech: IBM is introducing dramatic advances to speech technology, enabling developers to build applications in Japanese, powered by the Speech to Text and Text to Speech services.

"I am delighted that we are now unveiling IBM Watson in Japanese, which was jointly developed through our strategic alliance with IBM," said Ken Miyauchi, president and CEO of SoftBank, in a statement. "Since forging this strategic alliance, we launched the local IBM Watson ecosystem program in October 2015, formally selecting over a dozen ecosystem partners. We are also looking to introduce Watson internally, so we can propose various solutions and use cases to customers based on our own experience. Together with IBM and our ecosystem partners we will work to forge a new market, offering our customers innovative solutions with unparalleled value."

"Clients around the world are transforming their businesses with Watson technology, and the newly available language capabilities now bring the power of cognitive to Japan," said Paul Yonamine, general manager of IBM Japan, in a statement. "By putting cognitive technologies into the hands of developers and businesses across Japan, we can continue to drive innovation in the region."

In addition to enhancing Watson's Japanese language proficiency and localizing the technology platform, IBM and SoftBank Robotics Holdings also announced plans to develop a version of Watson for Pepper robots.

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